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Quick thinking firefighter rescues 2 from burning building, alone

Updated: Thursday, August 29 2013, 09:44 PM CDT
Reported by: Kyle Rogers

HARRISBURG -- A Dauphin County firefighter is being hailed a hero after rescuing two people out of a burning home -- by himself.

Nick Willcox is a live-in firefighter at Progress Fire Company along Maple Street in Susquehanna Township.

On Wednesday night, some EMS personnel stationed across the street were outside when they heard smoke detector alarms going off and smelled smoke. Upon looking, they discovered a fire was burning at the home beside the fire station.

"It was a godsend somebody needed a cigarette that would help the dominoes fall and help save a life," said fire marshal George Drees, referencing EMS staffers who at the time were smoking cigarettes.

Upon arriving to the home, EMS staff opened the door while radioing for help.
Willcox, who was sleeping at the time, woke up to hearing the conversation through radio scanners. He woke up his crew and fled to the scene of the fire.

At that time, he says he went to the home to hear a woman's voice inside and decided to go in -- alone -- to save her. Upon securing her, the two rushed past flames in the kitchen and safely exited the home.

That's when Willcox went back inside after learning somebody else was inside: a teenage boy, sleeping on the second floor.

"I had my hand over his head to make sure nothing would hit him," said Willcox. "We passed the fire and I handed him to EMS."

The two people, now homeless, are being cared for by the American Red Cross.

"If the ambulance crew didn't discover the fire, it would have been a different subject," said Drees. "If the live-ins didn't live here, it wouldn't have been a rescue but a body recovery."

Willcox, who since childhood aspired to be a fireman, remains humble about the attention he's received.

"Honestly,  I was doing what I love doing and doing what I was trained to do," he said.

The fire marshal said now is a good time for parents to test fire alarms in their home while the children are sleeping to see if they can wake up. Quick thinking firefighter rescues 2 from burning building, alone

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